The Up’s and Downs of a Cruising Sailor.

25th April 2016.

Anzac Day. Happy Birthay Jen.

Well I reckon I know why my blood pressure is all over the shot, it’s Langkawi. Been back a week and it is bloody hot, beer drinking weather some would say. The poor heart doctor would be shaking in his five hundred dollar prado shoes if he had an inkling at my drinking capabilities at the moment.

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We left Phuket and had a spinacker run for six hours down to Koh Phi Phi Yai and anchored up behind a little island. Pretty busy place with longtails buzzing around all arvo and three big ferrys anchored up to one mooring, no wonder they are all rooted, the moorings that is. Woke to solitude and lapped it up for about a cup of tea, then they come in waves around the corner and as close to the boat possible, wankers.

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We got out of there and headed for Koh Ya, found a really good mooring tucked behind a couple of little islands, more like big rocks, and we went for an excellent snorkel, crystal clear water and fish everywhere, good spot. We stayed the night then headed South, caught two Tuna and kept going for Koh Rawi, for some oysters and believe it or not a cool night, in the morning I had the hatch shut and was wrapped up in me sheet, no idea where that come from but we both enjoyed it.

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Next was Koh Lipe, big night at the Elephant bar with the Banana Band, a couple of Chinese on their honeymoon and my old young mate the barman. Staggered onto walking street and just about got run over by a taxi, perfect timing, I still had to negotiate a dinghy ride back to the boat but it all fell into place, got home 0200, safe and sound.

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Our next port of call was Telaga Harbour Marina, where the lovely Norma had booked us in for a week, got all the big things happening, booze and food and boat parts, had a feast at Teo’s and a hooting fish and chips Friday.

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It was a ripper fish and chips Friday, a good crew rolled up and some laughs were had, plus plenty of Tigers.

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Recovery day was pretty slow, although we ended up at Kumahs for a curry and Tigers, superb food mate.

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We now are members of three gangs, FCF gang, The Marina mob and another group of excellent people who I met around the place, Christy, Paul, Uncle Willy who is a pretty good example of getting old, he is a fit man for his age and he loves his ciggy’s and Tiger’s, Lewis, Ali and family and of course Kumah, one of the first people we met in Langkawi years ago. He is a ripper and pops up all over the show, he once helped me and Brian lose a couple of hundred Ringot playing cards at Drifters.

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Speaking of Brian and Lyn we caught up with them as well, as usual good fun was had. We had a BBQ on the beach for Andrew’s sixtieth, then the next night was a party on Boomerang, good do even if I say so myself, most of all the gangs turned up, Jono and Phil rolled up at 1500 and started me off early, Jono reckoned he would be gone at 1800 when everyone else was rolling up, yeah right, the both of them were in superb form by the end of the night. Keith and Kath, John and Colleen, Brian and Lyn and others were also there getting into it, I have a feeling there were a few people frogged. The boat was pretty trashed next day, just a little bit.

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Wisely I had allowed one more day before we left, spent a fair bit of it on the brush, that will learn me.

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I spent a whole day saying seeya to everyone we had met, Sofea and Theo down in Cenang, Joe and his wife at Joes Farmasi Kuah, Teo, Frederick but sadly not Rosie.

IMG_0772 Old Aunty and the staff at The Shin Mi. It was a good thing to do and although a bit sad it was good to see that at least someone likes me. The hardest goodbye was with the Tiggers, Keith and Kath, what unreal people to get to know, thanks again for everything you guys, you are rippers.

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We left with a passenger, Lewis who decided on coming with us to Phuket and so started a twenty hour passage, we had wind then none, we got caught up in a rope, late night dive in my jocks with the knife, fixed it as far as we were concerned, then sailed again till morning avoiding all boats, pretty hard feat as there are hundreds of them but with the tide in our favour we pulled up in Grand Ao Po Marina just on lunch, Toi teed it up with them and instead of doing it hard on the boat we had A/C going and not really much of a care in the world. Tiger time, although by then half a bottle of Pims had vapourised.

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Toi graciously lent us a car so with transport sorted we went about our chores, Jen got a two houry with Ratree down at the Nada Nada Massage for her birthday, she came out grinning, so did Lewis but I just worked and got dehydrated to the max, got back to the boat a bit white, shaky as and worn out. A quiet one for me, Lewis was still at the bar and Jen was glowing.

Our days were spent in and out of Ao Chalong, down at Nadas, up at Nai Yang and hovering around chandelery’s, AME came up the goods on a new filter bowl, cost 350 baht, yeeha Wewak, saved me 3000 baht on a whole one.

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The usual beverages on the balcony were had and a hooting BBQ with the G&T Team, it was a great night, plenty to eat and drink, the boys were going off dancing away and the hula hoop is back, little Ing has a style all of her own, not three weeks ago she was just learning now she’s running around flat out doing it. I am useless at it, not even a lap before it is on the ground. Young Or has got it though.

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I got an excellent massage from Ratree, the best one yet, it is going to be sad to leave these guys, they have been good mates .

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We invited them and Toi, Gerry and the kids out a spin up into Phang Nga Bay to see James Bond Island, it was a great day but geez it was hot. Once the wind came in it was better but just about melted. The girls went mad taking photo’s and then we went through the hong, pretty good to see.

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Got back on dark and rooted, Nada, Ratree and Youngen went home on the bike, Toi went home to make some dinner, we just collapsed and didn’t make it anywhere. Sorry about that Toi.

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Goodbye you guys, it has been unreal, in fact it rates as horror, hope we see you again. Hey Or, how old are you? You and Ingy have a great life mate.

Whose been to Banda Aceh?

9th June 2014.

We have and what a spin out. I was kind of thinking a flat barren area about the size of Kuah, I couldn’t have been more wrong, it is huge, something like Penang, awesome a few days of investigation is required.

Also something for consideration, THIS IS BLOG NUMBER 50!, Hope you enjoy, I reckon its time to bring on some pirates and another bottle of Laphroaig, my new nightcap. Although, we bought a few of bottles of Ferngrove Cabernet the other day in Langkawi, it is not to shabby either. Well done guys. One of the favourite clients when I used to work.IMG_0049

We started today like most others with a cup of tea, then got about getting ready to drop the mooring and head to Banda Aceh. It blew it’s arse off last night and as we approached the most western tip of Indonesia we were confronted with some heavy duty slop and 15kns on the nose. Our first attempt was aborted as the port engine room bilge alarm went off, just a short ping but enough to get you wondering especially as I thought I had vacuumed all the water and crap out of that bilge in particular. We ran the pump in manual and a litre or so came out then stopped, I was about to say stuff it and then, Ping, so it was run the pump again and about another litre came out. You wanker bilge alarm, the next five minutes is spent unloading the shed so I can get to the engine room hatch, this job is heaps more of a pain now as we have all the spare sails in bags stashed in there as well, due to the extra 40 metres of chain  we now have up front, poor old Boomerang was leaning forward so anything that could be shifted was. Add to this a tool box that is stupidly heavy, needs investigating, spare parts box which is purposely full, fishing tackle box, a bucket that weighs heaps as it is full of sinkers uncle Alf gave to me a couple of years ago in Dongara, socket set, buffer, cordless drill and an ice cream container full of diesel and oil with some tools in it soaking, which is now less full as it tipped over when a wave hit us, then once the cover was up there was not much water in there anyway, it certainly wasn’t obvious, wanker bilge alarm. I just left it all out, climbed over it and went back to giving orders. Wanker bilge alarm.IMG_0087

About 5 miles east of Pulau Weh you start to get some protection from the other islands a bit further south, which made for a pleasant little twenty mile jaunt. With five to go we even got the jib out and with the starboard engine at 2000RPM we were doing 7.8kns on really nice flat water sailing at 50 degrees to the wind. The next thing was where to park, everyone says they didn’t stop long, they just anchored out near the pass waiting for the right tide, which is a falling tide by the way, so we motored up to the shallows, it is blowing now, 15 to 20kns, anchor sets perfectly in 6 metres of water and I set about cleaning up the shed. I have climbed all the way back in and have got my head in the bilge when I hear, Hello, then Jen, get back up here some people want to meet you, spew, but up I come to find a small boat with 4 friendly looking dudes on board. Linda and her husband Adi, Bewan and Rizal, they had just stopped by for a chat, oh well why not. Glad they did as we were anchored right in the night time fishing zone so up anchor and move a mile or so, there is a foam buoy with a blue flasher on it, just east of that. A fair bit more protected but Windy is loving it, she is loving life at the moment lots of spinning and howling, I just look at her and think go baby, something for free on a boat. That is Windy the wind generator I am talking about.

Linda turns out to be a marine park advocate, I hope that is the right term Linda, one of the  good guys anyway, looking after the turtles, sharks and the reef and has set up funding for the area and is implementing her plans, nice person as is Adi and with Linda as translator this made conversing to easy. In no time we knew heaps of ins and outs for the area we found ourselves in,  I negotiated a motorbike from Adi and we are once again styling.  Bewan and Rizal both went through 2004, Rizal is the only remaining person in his family, makes you feel very sad. He is just coming to grips with going back into the water, luckily I didn’t give him a shove while I was mucking about with him on the back of Boomerang. We left our dinghy  tied to Bewan’s boat, safe as houses, he owns the warrang on the beach and has a lovely wife, Nora, and beautiful young daughter named Camelia. Linda and Camelia snorkelled out to the boat, not a bad effort, a couple of k’s no worries. We bought all of Bewan’s new coconuts off him for the trip.

This is when our next new acquaintances come to play, I had instructions to just follow the road, over the bridge and turn left to town. Luckily Deddie and Eddie, both survivors who also lost all their family, were at the warrang when we were leaving, I as usual was shaking hands with everyone and these guys indicated they were going to town and we should follow, next I had them taking us to Telkomsel and then a practice run to the airport for tomorrows big adventure, pick up Mo. After about half an hour we pulled up at the service station and I asked how much further, another 15 minutes, there was no way I was going to be able to find where we were now never mind another 15 or 20ks away, there are no signs with big planes on them, nothing but packed roads with bikes and trucks and cars, the usual rules are apparent, if light goes red, keep going until you can’t, all the lights are countdown lights which is handy for some reason and if you stuff up just say sorry and you will be excused and let in. Banda Aceh I love you. We bought the boys a late lunch, Nasi goreng and a carrot juice to wash it down, then back on the bike to get back to the boat before dark, which only just happened. They were superb young blokes and they never stopped smiling, Thanks guys if you ever read this, LOST is the word if it wasn’t for you.IMG_0063

Today I went to shore once again, this time to top up our internet, get fruit and veges, a couple of soccer balls and eventually pick up Mo from Banda Seafood in Ule elheue, which I had been advised is a place most taxis would know. When I got to shore, Rizal was there and helped me tie the boat up. We then piled into Linda’s car and off to the airport we headed, I can’t start to tell you how happy I felt, no worrying about Mo and taxi’s, just be there and pick her up and away, thank you Linda and Adi for your generosity, you are absolute legends. Their website is: lamjabatfoundation.or.id if you have a spare truck full of cash.

There is another story here, Mo’s trip from Langkawi to Banda Aceh. I think she might have been suffering a bit right from the start, drinks at the Pier then on to Raffi’s with the gang can get a bit messy. Anyway she has made it to the ferry 0900 and off it goes to Penang, then half way it breaks down so back to Kuah on one engine and onto another ferry, this one makes it. At least the wait in Penang was cut back a few hours, then board a plane to Medan, arrive there and no bus to pick her up, was organised I promise, so off she goes to get phone card and some Rupiah then back to airport then calls me, using a taxi drivers phone, then gets a cab to the hotel I booked for her, two and a half hours later with her own sim card now, taxi cost 250000rupiah and gets there after midnight, not too bad, I must admit I was wondering how this was going to play out by this stage, stayed in a nice room until 0500 then the hotel take her out to airport, this time only 40000rupiah, and a bit of a wait, 3 hours, then onto the plane and arrive in Banda Aceh an hour late, then a tour of BA, a dinghy trip back to the boat and she has nearly travelled about 350 nautical miles in 30 hours. We took 44 hours to do the same journey direct, 270nm in the boat. It was a great effort with an excellent ending, you have got to be happy with that. Father like daughter you might say.IMG_1276

Rizal gave us the full tour of BA today, showing us where the Tsunami hit, where he and his family ran to and where his house used to be, both Mo an I were just about balling, it is too sad and I found it very hard to take any photo’s. Very easy to give him a hug instead and say how sorry we feel for him and his fellow people, not sure how to say it. Rizal wanted me to take a photo of what remains of his old house. It is just about centre of this photo. He now lives in a district that was donated by Taiwan.IMG_1280

It is hard to believe it is 10 years ago, and I can’t imagine how it must be. Thank god for people like Linda.                          We had a Boomerang shirt handing out today, these are very much for the special people we meet, we are saving one for Sofea at the Adina Motel in Cenang, Rizal and Camelia are both worthy recipients. I taught them the best thank you I know, “Cheers Mate.” So if there is a young girl at Lampageue wearing a purple Boomerang T-Shirt you know what to say, I bet her eyes light up.IMG_0064

Woke up this morning to 25kns on the nose, not real flash to be heading out to sea.  So we wait, Mo has been shivering and aching, first on left side now all over, googled it, I reckon dehydration, but I am a dickhead. We had a storm come over the hills today 35kns, it was amazing, anchor held well. Wish the wind would blow the fly’s away, shocking, apparently from a chook farm, another reason to not eat it.

11/6/2014.                                                                                                                                                                                                              We received some bad news today, my mums sister Aunty Elsie passed away this morning, our thoughts are with all the Sweetman and Whitehead clans. Auntie Elsie was a beauty.

This could be the last  post for a bit, we possibly head around the top of Sumatra tomorrow, if this wind buggers off, had 36kns on the wind indicator and Windy is going off. We Will then head South  and a bit of east to get to wherever the boys on Beachouse are, watch out I reckon they might be hanging for a beer. As soon as we get to a place with Telkomsel we will be sure to get the wifi happening and fill you in on whats been going on.

Seeya,

Captain Rod and Crew.